Early Season Thought

So we have a new TV contract with TSN (Canada) :thup:
We make headlines for the "potential" strike/labor strife :thdn:
We add a new team to the league :thup:
We add a new TV deal with ESPN (US) :thup:
We are trying to "sell" the CFL down south and accross Canada as the "faster" and more "Exciting" alternative to the NFL (No Fun League) :thup:
We add new rules and start an experiment on challenging PI :thup:
The Refs slow the game down with at least one flag on every play so far this season (I know there were two plays that got off without a flag, but that was pre-season :wink: ) :thdn:
Seems like there are chalenges and reviews all the time now, slowing down the game even more :thdn:

In a year that there are supposed to be SO many positives for the league ... why are the Refs and the penalty/play reviews slowing the game so much? We're trying to sell this exciting brand of football to a wider audience and we have a unique window of opportunity to do it (extra attention this year), so why sully that with the carpet of orange? Some of the games this year have had so many orange flags that it's just painful to watch.

Love to hear others comments and opinions on this. I want the league to be successful and it just seems like this "crack down" or whatever it is, is just killing the speed of the game.


Agree on all points!

It seems like ALL of the officials are getting paid per flag this year, and I HATE HATE HATE the PI challenges! Slows the games down dramatically! I hope they make an early-season adjustment here, as the PI challenge experiment is obviously not working.

If it's a facemask - CALL IT. If it's offside - CALL IT. I just get so exasperated by the ticky-tack judgement (read: phantom) calls that seem so prevalent this year. If a guy is making an effort to give the punt returner space and is 4.5 yards from him instead of 5, do you really have to throw the flag (how are you going to measure this anyway)? Can you also explain the Jordan Matechuk "unnecessary roughness" penalty to me in the first quarter of Friday's game? Ricky Schmitt punted the ball which got booted around by the Rider returner, who went backward and fell on it. Two Lions came in and tackled him, and Matechuk gets a 15-yard penalty. Even Cuthbert and Suits were confused.

It's putting these game well over the 3 hour mark which is going to kill interest for the casual fan.

Agreed on all points. This is EXACTLY what I'm talking about. I played for years and have always said let the players play. I try not to complain about the refs too much, but this year has been brutal ALL AROUND! Flag after flag after flag! It's just painful.


The Refs haven't learned yet, when to let things go a little... Typically Canadian... Too honest.

The rabid flag tossing is frustrating and embarrassing. Don’t get me started on botched calls. IE roughing the passer on Ricky Ray who clearly ducked in to any helmet contact (slight if any) while still holding the ball. This is still contact football right?

I don’t mind the PI review so long as they get rid if the botched penalty calls and limit the constant flag tossing.

Agreed on all points! How the CFL thinks having a penalty on every play is going to grow the game and create fan interest is beyond me

It won't! The first time in many years I switched off the Friday night game to watch something else. I switched back at 10PM to watch the second game and the first game went on for another 30 minutes without over time!!!
It was far too long and it was caused by penalties, reviews which delay the game and make it frustrating and boring.
The only excitement in the game was the last minute or so.
The second game wasn't too bad but ruined by stupid calls by the refs, The RBs sack the Esks QB, a clean drop that took them out of FG range and then the ref call a penalty and it changes the whole tempo of the game. The refs should not be deciding these games and dictating the play.

Someone mentioned the No Fun League above - yet they seem to have changed their rules and they seem to have more offense and huge passing yards that they didn't have years ago, it's no longer the no fun league. We need to look at what they are doing because if we are not careful, more people will stop watching our brand. More rules more video evidence, refs calling more penalties it's taking the fun out of our game.

Are you perfect at your job? Are you flawless every day? Do you never make a mistake? No? Then maybe cut the officials some slack. And while you're at it, trying holding the players accountable for taking penalties, and coaches accountable for not disciplining their teams. Sure, there are botched and missed calls, but by and large, a flag is thrown for a legit reason. Don't shoot the messengers.

There is a similar thread to this complaining about all the flags on the Ti-Cats chat that Ti-Cats owner Bob Young posted to and I thought it was worth copying here what he posted as it may be of interest to you.

This is a great thread. Polite and informative, even if some of you are harder on our officials than they deserve at this point in the season.

I'll look forward to your comments in a few games because I think our officiating is going to improve markedly for three reasons:

  1. It is early in the season. As others have pointed out our teams make a lot of rookie mistakes early in the season.

  2. We are trying to protect against concussions better. This means we have to penalize even inadvertent hits to the head. Our coaches have been part of the process of building a strategy around this goal. They have been asked to teach defensive players how to tackle in ways that ensure we minimize the chance of hitting the ball carrier's head. But like all new initiatives it takes a while for everyone, from our officials, to our coaches and players, and including us fans, to learn and recognize the new rules.

  3. We have a new head of CFL officiating. He is a really smart guy. But as with any management change, it just takes a while for the team, in this case our officiating team, to fully understand and adapt to new leadership style and standards.

I was unaware that Bob Young and potentially some of the other owners, officials, etc were even active on this board. That's great! Thank you for posting this.

I'm not even calling out the Refs for specific missed calls or what not, I am just concerned that we have this limited window of opportunity to "make a first impression" on potential new fans and we seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot. I understand the speed of the game makes it hard for anyone to catch everything exactly right each time in "real time" and for the most part, I think they do a good job. My concern is the excessiveness of the flags that we are going through right now (perceived or real) and how it is slowing the game down. How the constant reviews are slowing down the game.

Maybe part of the suggestion would be to limit the time that can be spent on a review. Command center has ____ time to review and if it's not clear with in that time, the call on the field stands. I know as a "fan in the stands" I'm not going to be really excited in a four hour game at minus 21 degrees in MacMahon Stadium. Sure I'll come prepared, but if I just can't take the cold anymore ... I'm gone.

Thanks all for your thoughts. Would love to hear from others.


The media have noticed the game length issue as well: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/Ullri ... story.html

A lot of it isn't even the officials. TSN made halftime longer (more ads). They are having some games start later (more ads). Players are making more mistakes that are being called. There's now more painfully long challenges for things like PI that should not be reviewable.

Penalties are way up (last week had the third largest number in the last twenty years), but that seems to have as much to do with the guidance on whta to call changing as it does the officials actually doing anything wrong. If they're told to call things more strictly, you don't blame them when that results in more penalties.

I really can't stand to watch games that drag on forever live, so if I forget to PVR it I wind up not watching a lot of them at all (and being in the Maritimes, the extra timezone pushes anything that starts after 7ET out well past midnight even if it doesn't runh long). They should be trying to speed the action up, not slow it down to a crawl like they've managed to do this year.

Anyway, I totally agree this is a problem and it needs action. I don't agree with throwing the blame at the officials.

So far this season

-Glad to see Ottawa back
-Feel bad for the Hamilton situation
-Some games are just dragging. Mon/Winn, despite the good result for my team, felt like a game that went way too long.

Agree, that was a STUPID call.

What bugs me the most is how the REPLAY BOOTH f's up so damn much.

Refs make split second calls on bang bang plays. They can be forgiven. The booth has umpteen million frame by frame angles on every play. They have no excuse.

Charles catches it in the endzone, Bighill swats it out. Called incomplete. Goes to the booth, replay clearly shows a catch, both feet step to the ground, approx 1 second later swatted out. That is a TD. Replay decision is quote 'player did hot have possession'. Are you kidding? At least say inconclusive (except that the footage was clear).

Lion player makes a catch near the ground, called complete. Riders challenge. Replay shows the end of the ball possible squirming out of possession but view of ball touching ground is obscured. Players elbow moves out in what appears to be an attemp to to recorral a loose ball, but again no angle clearly shows the ball touching the turf. The ball PROBABLY touched, but you cannot OVERTURN on probably. That was INCONCLUSIVE but the booth overturned the catch.

Long pass to SJ Green incomplete near the goal line. Jump ball. Als want PI. Goes to booth. THIS IS ONE ON ONE FOOTAGE IN THE OPEN FIELD. Defender plants hands on Green's chest, shoves mightily before ball falls incomplete. Ruling 'defender did not make contact'. What fucking planet am I on???? SERIOUSLY!!

Banjo bowl last season. Rory Kohlert makes a fantastic toe drag catch on the sidelines. Called complete on the field. Riders challenge. One angle shows the clear catch but the toe and sideline are obscured so cannot tell if in bounds. owever, the black pellets can CLEARLY be seen flying up after the catch was made. Other angle ball and hands are obscured, but the toe dragging and black pellets clearly seen IN BOUNDS. Ruling overturned. Incomplete. COME ON!!!!!

There is a LONG LONG list of booth screw ups over the years and it is INEXCUSEABLE!

Lions scored a TD in Regina last year on a fumble into the endzone. Replay put the ball back on the 1. Fucking Stupid.

Barrin Simpson swatted a fumble out of bounds for Winnipeg a few years back on a kick return. Called correct on the field. Overturned by the noodles in the booth.

Riders at Hamilton back in 05 or 06. Hamilton throws a pass over the middle, defender pops him from behind, Riders recover fumble. Called correct on the field. Goes to the booth, there is question whether the receiver had established possession because he caught the ball with both feet in air. replay CLEARLY shows that both feet contact firmly on ground before contact is even made. Reverse angle shows ball pop out due to the contact. Booth overturns, pass incomplete.

It goes on and on and on and on and on. For each call that is made right there is almost one good call undone. It's getting to the point where it would be better to just scrap replay altogether because its downright embarrassing.

...roughing the passer on Ricky Ray who clearly ducked in to any helmet contact...

When I saw that call I nearly stopped watching the game. I played minor league football many decades ago and I tell you there was much deliberate head hitting that was going on. These days the CFL game is being pussi-fied.

Albeit, these are reasons for these rules changes. One of them being that we want to save quarterbacks. If we want to treat quarterbacks like pussies, then that will change the nature of the game. Another big reason is that linemen have been getting bigger, faster, stronger and more athletic over the years. Many quarterbacks will not stand a chance against top defensive linemen.

Last Friday's game was nearly 4 hours long. Every time there is an exchange of possession I am bombarded with commercials. I watch the games on ESPN3 on the internet in the USA, so I probably get more commercials that the regular TSN feed in Canada.

I don't know if anyone observed in a game in the first week, I don't remember the exact game, where the official timekeeper almost refused to run the clock during the last three minutes of the halves as the play went on. None of the officials, coaching staffs, fans or announcers noticed. In Fridays game they actually ran the clock a bit quicker because the game was taking so long.


Women give birth. I would not liken a lack of toughness to the female genitalia.

The rules are no longer merely to save quaterbacks. That may have been the rationale in the 90s and early 2000s. The rules are there now to avoid litigation from ruined lives given the established evidence on degenerative brain disease and concussions.

The clock rules are such that the game clock basically continues uninterrupted save for a change of possession, score, timeout, incomplete pass, play out of bounds or penalty. The game clock regardless of the outcome of the previous play, runs with the play clock even on the conversion attempt.

The exception is under 3 minutes in the 2nd and 4th quarters where the game clock stops after EVERY play and only runs with the play clock prior to the snap after a tackle in the field of play where there was no change of possession, score, timeout, incomplete pass, play out of bounds or penalty.

This accounts for the differences in the clock you observed.

Please excuse me for my references to the female genitalia, for lack of a more apt description.

In the last 3 minutes of each of the halves, I thought the clock was supposed to run when the ref whistles for the huddle to begin, that is when the time count begins, huddle, QB cadence, then snap. I do however stand corrected by the previous reply.

In reference the slow clock in the week one game, I observed that several seconds elapsed even after the snap and play before the clock actually started running. No one noticed, not the announcers, not the fans, not the coaching staffs, none of the officials. Whoever was operating the clock showing on the screen was awfully slow. I’ve watched many CFL games in the past and rarely if ever saw that. And if it ever did happen there would be an uproar from those concerned.

In my opinion the over-protection of the quarterbacks will change the nature of the game. It is somewhat difficult for one to not involve the helmet when making a hit. The helmet is an essential apparatus when making a hit, as well as the obvious protection of the skull.

What you might have observed was a disparity between the clock presented on TV and the actual in stadium game clock.

TSN after a decade and a half of covering CFL football has at least as of last year not yet linked their TV clock with the actual clock. On some plays, the TV crew will run down the TV clock to catch up with the official game clock or freeze it to allow the stadium clock to catch up.

Some infractions that are clearly seen on TV are not so obvious when you are in the middle of the mayhem down on the field. Although it gets frustrating to watch obvious missed calls (particularly some holding and offside calls) I can at least understand why they occur. What I find frustrating (a euphemism for what, according to my wife, turns me into a raving maniac) are the "phantom" calls that are occurring with alarming regularity this year. How the hell can you see something that didn't happen??